A Response to “Grief. Despair . . .”

From JJ at failedknight@live.com:

Grief. Despair. Mourning. Fear…
there is something to great suffering – something so innate about suffering it’s self that is necessary and actually ‘good’ for the human spirit within. Otherwise if I may say, if you are a Christian in any sense of the term… If there wasn’t something ‘attatched to such great suffering’, then Christ would have simply danced our sins away..
Suffering in my little opinion is the gateway to great joy – somehow someway it truly is.
it’s one of those catch-22 polar-opposite statements i know – and yet if we are to follow “His Lead” on this we are missing something – not to mention the very much missing: compassion, kindness, empathy, and love. But suffering we have in feastful abundance and some more than others.

I wish peace for you, true and real peace.
as well as in what comes next.
Peace be with You.

From me:

Easy for you to say, but answer your own question:  “somehow someway [suffering] truly is [the gateway to great joy].”  How?  Way?  It is imbecilic to accept suffering as a spiritually good thing if you cannot in some way trace the path that leads from suffering to joy.  Show me the how and way.

And, oh BTW, have you ever experienced “great suffering?”  No, I didn’t think so.  You wouldn’t recommend it for others if you’d ever experienced it yourself.

I am a devout worshipper of the one great Lord of the Hindus, Jews, Christians and Muslims, but I do not count myself a Christian; I do worship God but not Christ.  The crucifixion has never had any meaning for me; all other major religions have gotten along fine without glorifying suffering.  Jesus was not the only person to rise from the dead (see Lazarus, et al), nor was he the only child of God.  We are all children of Brahman/Yahweh/God/Allah, i.e., the Lord. 

We are all children of a single father who calls us.  Some of us are called to greater and more important tasks than others; some of us answer the call with greater commitment and diligence than others.  In different times and places the Lord has called different people to lead us:  Abraham, Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa.  Ever wonder how many people have been called but not answered–like you, maybe?

The world religions are greater than Christianity.  I cannot accept any theology that does not include all peoples of the world.  No way do I believe that the Lord has abandoned all non-Christians to some kind of hell, although I did sit in a dentist’s waiting room with a woman who believed exactly that.  The Hindu is my brother and the Muslim is my sister:  no way can I believe that my God has abandoned them.

There is a difference between righteousness and self-righteousness.  In righteousness, God is the standard of Right; in self-righteousness, man is the standard of right.  I know a psychotherapist who has been sexually abusing his patients for decades.  He claims allegiance to no God, and therefore is free to set himself up as the standard for what is right—which is wrong.

I use the name “God” because that is the tradition in which I was raised, but I mean the one Lord who is above us all.  I read the sacred texts of all religions to learn what the commonalities are.  Across the board, who does “God” say he is?  What does he call us to do?  My answers to the questions are that there is one Lord above all; that he calls us to humility before him, and that we are called to care for one another, to speak the truth, and to seek justice.  That is one tall order that doesn’t leave time or energy for arguing about picky little shit like whether marriage is between one man and one woman.  We’re supposed to care for each other, not judge each other.

So let’s go back to suffering.  The great god of knowledge, Wikipedia, says that—

“Suffering, or pain in a broad sense, is an experience of unpleasantness and aversion associated with the perception of harm or threat of harm in an individual. Suffering is the basic element that makes up the negative valence of affective phenomena.

“Suffering may be qualified as physical or mental. It may come in all degrees of intensity, from mild to intolerable. Factors of duration and frequency of occurrence usually compound that of intensity. Attitudes toward suffering may vary widely, in the sufferer or other people, according to how much it is regarded as avoidable or unavoidable, useful or useless, deserved or undeserved.

“Suffering occurs in the lives of sentient beings in numerous manners, and often dramatically. As a result, many fields of human activity are concerned, from their own points of view, with some aspects of suffering. These aspects may include the nature of suffering, its processes, its origin and causes, its meaning and significance, its related personal, social, and cultural behaviors, its remedies, management, and uses.

“The word suffering is sometimes used in the narrow sense of physical pain, but more often it refers to mental or emotional pain, or more often yet to pain in the broad sense, i.e. to any unpleasant feeling, emotion or sensation. The word pain usually refers to physical pain, but it is also a common synonym of suffering. The words pain and suffering are often used both together in different ways. For instance, they may be used as interchangeable synonyms. Or they may be used in ‘contradistinction’ to one another, as in ‘pain is physical, suffering is mental’, or ‘pain is inevitable, suffering is optional’. Or they may be used to define each other, as in ‘pain is physical suffering’, or ‘suffering is severe physical or mental pain’.”

For example, seeing a punctuation mark outside quotation marks causes me, a literate American, severe suffering, however, in Britain, this is correct punctuation.  The world may exist under one Lord, but not one grammar stylebook.

About annecwoodlen

I am a tenth generation American, descended from a family that has been working a farm that was deeded to us by William Penn. The country has changed around us but we have held true. I stand in my grandmother’s kitchen, look down the valley to her brother’s farm and see my great-great-great-great-great-grandmother Hannah standing on the porch. She is holding the baby, surrounded by four other children, and saying goodbye to her husband and oldest son who are going off to fight in the Revolutionary War. The war is twenty miles away and her husband will die fighting. We are not the Daughters of the American Revolution; we were its mothers. My father, Milton C. Woodlen, got his doctorate from Temple University in the 1940’s when—in his words—“a doctorate still meant something.” He became an education professor at West Chester State Teachers College, where my mother, Elizabeth Hope Copeland, had graduated. My mother raised four girls and one boy, of which I am the middle child. My parents are deceased and my siblings are estranged. My fiancé, Robert H. Dobrow, was a fighter pilot in the Marine Corps. In 1974, his plane crashed, his parachute did not open, and we buried him in a cemetery on Long Island. I could say a great deal about him, or nothing; there is no middle ground. I have loved other men; Bob was my soul mate. The single greatest determinate of who I am and what my life has been is that I inherited my father’s gene for bipolar disorder, type II. Associated with all bipolar disorders is executive dysfunction, a learning disability that interferes with the ability to sort and organize. Despite an I.Q. of 139, I failed twelve subjects and got expelled from high school and prep school. I attended Syracuse University and Onondaga Community College and got an associate’s degree after twenty-five years. I am nothing if not tenacious. Gifted with intelligence, constrained by disability, and compromised by depression, my employment was limited to entry level jobs. Being female in the 1960’s meant that I did office work—billing at the university library, calling out telegrams at Western Union, and filing papers at a law firm. During one decade, I worked at about a hundred different places as a temporary secretary. I worked for hospitals, banks, manufacturers and others, including the county government. I quit the District Attorney’s Office to manage a gas station; it was more honest work. After Bob’s death, I started taking antidepressants. Following doctor’s orders, I took them every day for twenty-six years. During that time, I attempted%2
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4 Responses to A Response to “Grief. Despair . . .”

  1. annecwoodlen says:

    qwester32 commented on A Response to “Grief. Despair . . .”

    Ouch, hardass,
    Externalize your self hate if you must. That demonstrates your true disability much more accurately than your usual self pitying drivel.

    Qwester32: Frank, if what I write is “self pitying drivel,” why do you keep reading it? Anne

    • qwester32 says:

      I want to discover if you ever grow up and use your numerous talents to escape poverty.

      • annecwoodlen says:

        Qwester: In response to your multiple comments, please be advised that henceforth every comment you write will be deleted un-read. You either can choose to help people or hurt people. You are part of the problem, not the solution.

  2. JJ says:

    yes i do know great suffering. the only way it does not consume me to the point of death is by doing everything i can not to focus every moment on myself and my own sufferings.
    I find that when i instead get out of ‘self’ and help even in the smallest tiniest way another human being, Only then my own sufferings are lessened. Even if just for that moment. And then on a good day one moment follows another moment out of self and another and so on.

    I was not attacking you my friend – in life we all know suffering to differing degrees – and that since God is a loving God there must be something centered within it or from it that has yet to be discovered by many. was not a judgement.
    but see how you took it as a mean-spirited blow of some kind, arrogant self righteous dribble spoken by yet another Christian.
    It was not meant as such nor does it please me that apparent hypocrisies of others have made you quick to jump and assume such is the intent from the very word of God.

    The ‘good’ that come from pain – great pain – the most obvious example is a woman bearing a child. Such excruciating pain is Usually followed by the Great joy of an innocent child, yes?
    The same is said for many things – The loss of a great love is great pain – But ONLY because we had that strong and true love. It is the human condition – nothing lasts forever in This world. Everything is made and created Not to last.
    Our Joys.
    and our sufferings.
    but nothing is wasted either.
    not even our dead bodies.
    that too is life in this world.

    if you truly would like to discuss suffering as such in depth i am willing.

    again Anne, i wish you only peace..
    peace within.. that makes even the toughest days more than bearable.

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